February 20, 2004
DAY 121: It's one thing to travel and live out of a bag, hostel to hostel to hostel. It's another to actually travel somewhere and live there for a while. That morning, Lara and I checked out of our Botofogo hostel dorm to find out exactly how living in Rio felt like. We packed our bags and took a cab to our agent Luis in Copacabana, who was all set to bring us to the apartment when we arrived.
"Oh, you mean the one that overlooks Copacabana Beach?" Lara said yet again with a smirk. It became her tag line for whenever we mentioned the new pad.
Luis' sister came with us with the key to our new subletted home (picture above): a studio on the sixth floor with ceiling fans, satellite TV, kitchen and bathroom. And the view outside the window did have some sort of a view of the beach, as promised. Lara and I were immediately impressed and suddenly transformed from mere travelling partners to roommates.
Luis and his sister gave us the keys and told us to come back to the office later to fill out the contracts and pick up our costumes. "Oh, one thing," he said. "You have to pretend you are my cousin."
"Uh, okay," I said. I figured I'd tell people I was from Little Brazil in New York City until I realized I didn't know how to say that in Portuguese.
A couple of hours later we pressed our luck back at the tour agency. When the door opened, we saw the good news laying in the corner: our costumes for our samba school, Beija-Flor. Carlos was there with our two-week sublet contracts -- which we filled in and paid for in full -- and then it was time to play dress up. Lara and I put on the mainly orange and red pieces, from the shin guards to the shoes to the headdresses and masks. The heaviest part of the costume was a decorative mass of feathers and grass, which was draped over our torsos with the support of a harness. We didn't get snap happy with our cameras just yet -- Lara suggested I don't post any photos of us in costume until we are actually marching in the parade.
After waiting in the waiting room for about an hour, I was led into the head doctor's office. I explained the cartoon-like accident I had in Foz do Iguaçu and he sent me to another room where two nurses attended to me. They tried to talk to me and I made my best efforts -- I tried to shine them on by telling them I was marching in the Carnivale procession with the Beija-Flor school. Both of them immediately started laughing; I don't know why.
Using solution and a pair of scissors, they cut a ridiculous patch out of my hair, which made my head look like a lawn that a kid had started to mow before running off to play video games instead. They treated the still somewhat open wound with some ointment -- I didn't realize how ridiculous I looked until I saw myself in the bathroom mirror.
"Wear a hat," the doctor told me when he came in to check up on me. He also told me I shouldn't go to the beach for two days -- I assumed he meant that I shouldn't go in the water.
Back at the new apartment, I made Penne Bolognese for dinner for me and my roommate. Lara mixed drinks and mixed drinks and mixed drinks, and needless to say, it was a giggly first night celebration of the new apartment. The Beatles pumped out of my laptop hooked up to the television speakers, and although I didn't think we were that loud, we were evidently pissing off the neighbors. The intercom buzzed a couple of times -- we just ignored it and continued our festivities -- but we couldn't avoid it when the doorbell rang. It was the doorman who had to come up personally to tell us to tone it down. I don't know what he was saying to me, but I just said "disculpe" ("sorry") about half a dozen times.
What a way to be welcomed to the neighborhood.
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